Month: September 2016

SAINT THERESE AND HER GREAT DESIRE FOR GOD

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“What prepares the soul to be united with God  is the desire for God”     (St. John of the Cross)

From time to time it is helpful to pause and consider whether we are sincerely seeking after God. It is a valuable spiritual exercise simply to gauge your desire for God. A question to consider is whether there is anything in your life you value more than God? It is critical that you love God more than self, and all created things in God.

A great desire for God, the Summum Bonum (Greatest Good), is key to our spiritual progress. The saints saw with true wisdom that the great good in life is the “Ever-Blessed God” who is Infinite Goodness (what can compare to Infinite Goodness: all the other goods in the world, wrapped together as one big bundle of good, are less than nothing compared to He who IS); and seeing this truth, and moved by it, the saints went after God with an unremitting intensity, knowing that union with this Infinitely Good God was the only true and final end of life.

We affectionately call Saint Therese “The Little Flower”.  And all the saints were aware of their extreme littleness compared to God: humility is the pathway to God. But it would be a mistake not to see in Saint Therese the heart of a lion who went after God with a ferocious appetite. In fact, Saint Therese in her autobiography compares herself to “a weak little bird” who has “the eyes and heart of an eagle” (Manuscript B). An ardent desire for God – above all created goods – is characteristic of the saints.

The sentimental image of Therese as a charming French girl who gave her life to God by becoming a nun and offered up little sacrifices on God’s behalf is true – yet her life runs even deeper than that. Her life is the story of a girl and then a young woman who was radically in love with God and who wished to offer herself to God in an exchange of love that took her completely beyond herself and into God (nuptial union). Therese’s “little way” of “making love the mainspring of every action” requires the profound, constant and universal mortification of self-love and self-interest. It is a little way but with huge implications for growth in holiness. The sweet, little way is a death – a death to self. Under-girding Therese’s little way, therefore, is an ardent love of God expressed by a sacrificial life.

Of Therese, Father Christopher O’Donnell says: “When we get beneath the language and culture of Therese, we find that for all her charm, she was almost ruthless in her pursuit of holiness in her complete sacrifice to God’s merciful love.” Here are a few examples from Saint Therese’s autobiography which demonstrate her great desire to offer herself to God:

 –  she reflects in her autobiography that around age 6 “I loved God intensely,  and very often I  offered Him my heart in words taught me by Mummy” (Image, p.32);

 –  At age 13 she writes these words of Saint John of the Cross in “fine lettering” : “To suffer and to be despised” (Gaucher, p.11);

 – At age 14 “while contemplating an image of Christ on the cross, she resolved to ‘remain in spirit at the foot of the cross’ in order to gather the blood that drips from his wounds and give it to souls” (Gaucher, p. 13); and

 – While a nun at Carmel (around age 22) she makes a profound offering of her life to God as a “victim of love” in a written text available online entitled, “An Act of Oblation to Merciful Love.”

What is the lesson here? It is this: you gotta want God. You gotta go after God with great desire. Oh Mother Mary, please place in our hearts a portion of your own desire for God.

Practical recommendation: make a novena to Saint Therese for either a greater desire for God or for greater confidence in God.

“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart,” said the Lord (Jeremiah 29:13). 


Tom Mulcahy, M.A.

ReferencesIn the opening pages of The Ascent of Mount Carmel Saint John of the Cross constantly reminds the reader of the nothingness of everything else compared to God, and I am using his language and that of Father Faber in this note (paragraph two). I am also relying on Bishop Guy Gaucher’s book, John and Therese: Flames of Love. Photograph of Saint Therese, Public Domain, U.S.A. Saint Therese’s Feast Day is October 1.

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IMPORTANT PROPHETIC WORDS OF THREE MODERN SAINTS FROM POLAND

“Dear friends, may no adversity paralyze you. Be afraid neither of the world, nor of the future, nor of your weakness. The Lord has allowed you to live in this moment of history so that, by your faith, his name will continue to resound throughout the world.” (Pope Benedict XVI)

Set forth below are three important prophecies by three modern saints who were all born in Poland. The first prophecy is by Saint Pope John Paul II, and was made during a visit to the United States in 1976 when he was still a Cardinal. The second prophecy is by Saint Maximilian Kolbe, the Franciscan priest who died in a starvation bunker in Auschwitz during World War II, having volunteered to take the place of a married man. The third prophecy is from Saint Faustina Kowalska, the nun whose “Diary” has promoted greater devotion to God’s Divine Mercy. She died in 1938 and was canonized in 2000.

 

FIRST PROPHECY (By Saint John Paul II)

Vom 15. bis 19. November 1980 besuchte Seine Heiligkeit Papst Johannes Paul II. die Bundesrepublik Deutschland. Auf Einladung von Bundespräsident Karl Carstens hat der Papst seinen pastoralen Besuch mit einem offiziellen in Bonn verbunden. Am 15. November gab der Bundespräsident einen Empfang zu Ehren Seiner Heiligkeit auf Schloß Augustusburg in Brühl bei Bonn. Dort führte Papst Johannes Paul II. auch ein Gespräch mit Bundeskanzler Helmut Schmidt. Gleichzeitig traf Bundesaußenminister Hans-Dietrich Genscher mit Kardinal-Staatssekretär Casaroli zusammen. Im Anschluß an den offiziellen Teil begab sich der Papst auf den Bonner Münsterplatz, um dort eine Ansprache zu halten. Ferner bestand der pastorale Teil aus Besuchen in Köln, Osnabrück, Mainz, Fulda, Altötting und München. In allen diesen Städten hielt Papst Johannes Paul II. die Heilige Messe. Eigentlicher Anlaß seines Aufenthaltes in der Bundesrepublik war der 700. Todestag von Albertus Magnus (1193-1280), dessen Grab der Papst in Köln besuchte. Bundespräsident Karl Carstens und Papst Johannes Paul II. auf Schloß Augustusburg in Brühl.

“We are now standing in the face of the greatest historical confrontation humanity has gone through. I do not think that wide circles of American society or wide circles of the Christian community realize this fully. We are now facing the final confrontation between the Church and the anti-Church, of the Gospel versus the anti-Gospel.

“We must be prepared to undergo great trials in the not-too-distant future; trials that will require us to be ready to give up even our lives, and a total gift of self to Christ and for Christ. Through your prayers and mine, it is possible to alleviate this tribulation, but it is no longer possible to avert it. . . .How many times has the renewal of the Church been brought about in blood! It will not be different this time.” 


SECOND PROPHECY (by Saint Maximilian Kolbe)

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“Modern times are dominated by Satan and will be more so in the future. The conflict with hell cannot be engaged by men, even the most clever. The lmmaculata alone has from God the promise of victory over Satan. However, assumed into heaven, the Mother of God now requires our cooperation. She seeks souls who will consecrate themselves entirely to her, who will become in her hands effective instruments for the defeat of Satan and the spreading of God’s kingdom upon earth.”

 

THIRD PROPHECY (by Saint Faustina Kowalska)

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“Jesus looked at me and said: ‘Souls perish in spite of my bitter Passion. I am giving them the last hope of salvation: that is the Feast of my Mercy. If they do not adore my mercy, they will perish for all eternity. Secretary of my mercy, write, tell souls about this great mercy of mine, because the awful day, the day of my justice, is near.’ “ (Diary, 965)

 
Comment:  We should be increasingly aware that there are strong forces in our society under the domain of Satan. One sign of this is the massive apostasy we are witnessing. In Luke’s Gospel (Chapter 19) we see that Jesus wept over Jerusalem and prophesied its coming destruction, which occurred in A.D. 70. Jerusalem was not as blessed as nations who have received the Gospel. The greatest immediate threat in all of this is our children and young adults, who are losing their precious faith in massive numbers. Chastisement comes quickly from the dissolution of morality consequent to the loss of faith: suddenly you find yourself living in a society sinking from the weight of its own immorality (this situation is described by Saint Paul at Romans 1: 24-32 ). The wisdom of the three saints mentioned in this note is unanimous that consecration to Mary is of immense value in remaining faithful to our baptismal consecration to Jesus. Pope Francis had his papacy consecrated to Our Lady of Fatima by Cardinal Jose Polycarp of Lisbon, Portugal; the apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary at Fatima have a profound prophetic dimension for our times and the trials the Church will have to endure. Perhaps this is a good time to review the great historical and “supernatural facts” of Fatima.


Tom Mulcahy, M.A.

 

Photo Attribution: The photograph of Pope John Paul II by Lothar Schaack, Nov. 15, 1980, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Germany license. Attribution: Bundesarchiv, B 145 Bild-F059404-0019 / Schaack, Lothar / CC-BY-SA.  The other two photos, Public Domain, U.S.A.

Sources: For the prophecy by Saint John Paul II, a June 1, 2014 article by Father C. John McCloskey entitled The Final Confrontation. The prophecy of Saint Maximilian Kolbe can be found at the EWTN website.  Church teaching: see CCC 668-679. Also, Ralph Martin has written a pamphlet, also called The FinalConfrontation, which elaborates on the subject matter of this note (available at renewalministries.net). Father Garrigou-LaGrange once wrote about “great supernatural facts” that worldly people tend to dismiss.

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GENESIS CONFIRMED: THE UNIVERSE HAD A BEGINNING!

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   “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1)

Not too long ago most astronomers and physicists held to the “steady-state” theory of the universe. This theory postulates that the universe has no beginning or end because it maintains a “constant average density” despite whatever change or expansion occurs.

But the scientific community began to chip away at the steady-state theory. “The death knell for the theory sounded when radio astronomers Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson discovered [in the 1960s] the cosmic microwave background, the leftover radiation from the Big Bang. The steady-staters had no reasonable way to explain this radiation, and their theory slowly faded away as so many of its predecessors had” (pbs.org).

The evidence now generally accepted in the scientific community is that the universe did, in fact, have a beginning, exploding into being billions of years ago in what is referred to as the “Big-Bang” theory. The astronomer Robert Jastrow explains to us that “three lines of evidence – the motions of galaxies, the laws of thermodynamics, and the life story of the stars – pointed to one conclusion: all indicated that the universe had a beginning” (God and the Astronomers, p.111).

“Arno Penzias, who won the Nobel Prize for his discovery of the cosmic background radiation [a ghostly whisper from the original moment of creation] that corroborated the Big-Bang, said, ‘The best data we have are exactly what I would have predicted had I nothing to go on but the five books of Moses, the Psalms, and the Bible as a whole.’”

Astronomer Robert Jastrow concludes: “Now we see how the astronomical evidence [of the Big-Bang origin of the universe] leads to a biblical view of the origin of the world. The details differ, but the essential elements in the astronomical and biblical accounts of genesis are the same: the chain of events leading to man commence suddenly and sharply at a definite moment in time, in a flash of light and energy” (A Scientist Caught, p.14). “Astronomers now find that they have painted themselves into a corner because they have proven, by their own methods, that the world began abruptly in an act of creation…as a product of forces they cannot hope to discover” (God and the Astronomers, p.15).

Tom Mulcahy, M.A.

Sources: My primary sources for this note, and for the quotes set forth above, are Norman Geisler’s article, “Big Bang Theory,” in the Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics, and chapter eleven of What’s So Great About Christianity by D. D’Souza. I understand that astronomer Robert  Jastrow is an agnostic.

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RECONNECTING WITH NATURE IS HEALTHY

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I am convinced that many people would experience improved mental well-being if they increased their contact and communion with the natural beauty of God’s creation.

God, who is, as the scholastic theologians say, in His creation by His POWER, PRESENCE and ESSENCE is most assuredly present in the transformative beauty of the natural world.

Commenting on the healing power of nature, Saint Pope John Paul II made the following observation:

“The aesthetic value of creation cannot be overlooked. Our very contact with nature has a deep restorative power; contemplation of its magnificence imparts peace and serenity. The Bible speaks again and again of the goodness and beauty of creation, which is called to glorify God.”  (John Paul II, 1990 World Day of Peace Message, no. 14.)

What is being urged upon us here is an improved communion with nature. Who hasn’t felt a special feeling of tranquility walking along the ocean shore, or gazing upon a majestic mountain? And yet how often do we find ourselves cut-off and deprived of the beauty of nature for many reasons. Pope Francis made this observation in his recent encyclical on the environment, saying, “In some places, rural and urban alike, the privatization of certain spaces has restricted people’s access to places of particular beauty” (no. 45).

Father Irala, in his popular book, Achieving Peace of Heart, tells us that “we must live beauty.” He maintains that we need to be “reeducated” to “receive the external world.” This means, in one context, that if we are looking at a beautiful river we should spend some time peering into it –contemplating it – so that we may receive the vital influx of its beauty. It’s as if he was saying, “take some time to stop and smell the roses.” 

Father Irala tells an interesting story about a businessman who was on the verge of a nervous breakdown. It was apparently felt that the overworked businessman needed some time away from his hectic office to unwind and rejuvenate, but since this remedy wasn’t feasible his physician requested that “an aquarium of tropical fish built in his private office and that he spend an hour every day peacefully watching the graceful convolutions of those little creatures.” It is related that “before the year was out he sent a donation to [his physician’s] hospital as a token of gratitude for his cure” (p.41).

Perhaps many of us need to be reoriented to the beauty of the natural world and its deep healing power. If we are alienated from nature, we are in some sense alienated from God. Near the end of Laudato Si, Pope Francis wrote these poetic words:

“All-powerful God, you are present in the whole universe and in the smallest of your creatures. You embrace with your tenderness all that exists. Pour out upon us the power of your love, that we may protect life and beauty” (no. 246).

Let us not only protect life and beauty; let us immerse ourselves in its “restorative power.”

Tom Mulcahy, M.A.

P.S. As a practical example, many of us spend time walking along a nature trail. To reeducate your mind to the beauty of nature, spend some time actually peering into the moving stream along the trail, or looking receptively at a strange but beautiful flower you pass by. Father Irala says that we should let the beauty “enter deep into us.” We are not talking about pantheism, but rather about God manifested through the beauty of his external creation. This is, in essence, a form of religious contemplation.

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THE THREE O’CLOCK DEVOTION

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                            Jesus: “At three o’clock, implore My mercy”

Here is a simple devotion anyone can practice for just a few moments at the three o’clock hour or close thereto. It’s a way to lift your heart and soul to Jesus in prayer as part of a devotional practice that draws upon our Lord’s Passion and Death (our Lord gave up His life on the cross at 3 pm). Now, please note that this quick devotion – taking only seconds – was promulgated by the Lord Himself: it’s His idea!  He revealed the practice to Saint Faustina, the visionary of Divine Mercy. By now, with her having been canonized, and the Feast of Divine Mercy having been established by the Church as Jesus told her it would!, it seems highly probable that the revelations of Jesus to this mystic are authentic.  Note how generous the Lord is: he promises significant graces for such a small amount of effort in making this lightning- quick devotion!

THE DEVOTION:

In His revelations to Saint Faustina, Jesus encouraged the following devotional practice:

“At three o’clock, implore My mercy, especially for sinners; and if only for a brief moment, immerse yourself in My Passion, particularly in My abandonment at the moment of agony: This is the hour of great mercy for the whole world. I will allow you to enter into My mortal sorrow. In this hour, I will refuse nothing to the soul that makes a request of Me in virtue of My Passion.” (Diary, 1320).

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(Saint Faustina Kowalska, 1905-1938, who was canonized by Saint Pope John Paul II on April 30, 2000)

Please note that this practice does not require you to say the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, as highly advantageous as that would be. It only requires a few brief moments of prayer in the manner Jesus describes. One thing you constantly find the saints recommending is the efficacy of meditating on the Lord’s Passion. Here’s a simple way to do it in the time it takes to tie your shoes! The Lord is good to us. Could He make it any easier?

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“Jesus, I trust in You.”

Tom Mulcahy

Image Attribution: Per Wikipedia, the image of Jesus above is the “Original painting of the Divine Mercy (by Eugeniusz Kazimirowski in 1934). This is this image which was done with Sister Faustina’s instructions and before her death in 1938, unlike the most known version by Adolf Hyła painted in 1943.” This work/file is is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license. The picture of Saint Faustina, Public Domain, U.S.A.

 

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THERE IS POWER IN DEVOTION TO OUR LADY OF SORROWS

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Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: ‘This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.’ ”   (Luke 2:34-35)

“We draw [Jesus] toward us the moment we begin to think of His Mother’s sorrows. He is beforehand, says Saint Anselm, with those who meditate His Mother’s woes. And do we not stand in need of power in heaven? What a great work we have to do in our souls, and how little of it is already done! How slight is the impression we have made yet on our ruling passion, on our besetting sin! How superficial is our spirit of prayer, how childishly timid our spirit of penance, how transitory our moments of union with God! We want vigor, determination, consistency, solidity, and a more venturous aspiration.

In short, our spiritual life wants power.  And here is a devotion so solid and efficacious, that it is eminently calculated to give us this power, as well by its masculine products in the soul as by its actual influence over the Heart of our Blessed Lord. Who, that looks well at the saints, and sees what it has done for them, but will do his best to cultivate this devotion in himself.

…do not some of us feel that the world grows more attractive to us as we grow older? It should not be so; but so it is. This comes of lukewarmness. Age unlearns many things; but woe betide it when it unlearns vigor, when it unlearns hope! Rest is a great thing. It is the grand want of age. But we must not lie down before our time! Ah! how often has fervent youth made the world its bed in middle life! and when at last the world slipped from under it, whither did it fall? If we live only in the enervating ring of domestic love, much more in the vortex of the world,we must live with Jesus in the spirit of Mary or we are lost.

Let us learn this in increased devotion to her [sorrows]… and it will become in us a continually flowing fountain of supreme unworldliness. Torpor will become impossible. Oblivion [forgetfulness] of supernatural things will become unknown. We shall feel that rest will be present for a while; but we will disdain the temptation [to flee from the cross]. Mary will teach us to stand beneath the cross….

He who is growing in devotion to the Mother of God is growing in all good things. His time cannot be better spent; his eternity cannot be more infallibly secured…. And there is nothing about Our Lady which stimulates our love more effectually than her dolors [sorrows]” (Emphasis added).

Edited and slightly adapted from The Foot of the Cross: The Sorrows of Mary, pages 68-73, by Father F.W. Faber (TAN Books). Father Faber, a convert, was one of the great spiritual writers of the 19th century.

Tom Mulcahy

Image: Mater Dolorosa by Dieric Bouts, circa 1480-1500, Art Institute of Chicago (Public Domain, U.S.A.)

P.S. The Seven Sorrows of Mary are: 1) The Prophecy of Simeon; 2) The Flight into Egypt; 3) The Three Days’ Loss: 4)  Mary meets her son with the cross; 5) The Crucifixion (Mary at the foot of the cross); 6) Jesus is taken down from the cross; and 7) The burial of Jesus. The devotional booklet I use and recommend is: Devotion to the Sorrowful Mother (TAN Books). The Feast Day for Our Lady of Sorrows is September 15.

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THE SECRET OF GREAT FAITH

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Every now and then you may stumble across a note or an essay that turns out to have great value for your spiritual journey. This type of experience happened to me when I was reading a book by Patricia Treece which led me to a note written by Father Ralph Tichenor on the power of praising God, a power which he refers to as a “secret of great faith.”

In the book I was reading by Patricia Treece (who is an author of books on the saints), she mentions an encounter she had with a holy priest named Father Ralph Tichenor when she was still Protestant. Treece relates in her book that the holy priest’s face normally”beamed” with “love and goodwill,” but during the night in question, while he was giving a “simple talk,” she actually saw the priest “suffused by a yellowish-white light which streamed out to me. The light was warm and sweet. As this light touched me, I said to myself, ‘I’m being healed.’” She then relates the healing she received and “spiritual benefits as well” from this “luminous priest.” Interested to find out a little about Father Tichenor, who died in 1983, I searched the web and came across a rather amazing note written by the priest entitled, The Secret of Great Faith,” which is an awesome note about the power of praising God.

In his note Father Tichenor writes: “Let me sum up. The secret of faith without doubt is praise continuous, great triumphant praise which becomes a way of life.” He says that “the Holy Spirit…is calling us to a life of praise.” He says that “through praise (and only praise of God) the whole world will be renewed.”

Father Tichenor  tells us that “many Catholics underestimate the power of praise.” He further states that even Catholics who live  “disciplined lives of prayer and intercession” find their faith “weak” and “uncertain” because the secret of great faith is to be “engaged in the praise of God.” From “the Scriptures,” he says, “we find that the entire universe…is seen as engaged in one great chorus of praise to the Creator.”

Father Tichenor adds that praise of God gives us power over evil because “Satan fears praise even more than prayer.” Satan “simply cannot operate in…a setting” where there is “joyful praise” and “reverence,” “adoration,” and “acceptable worship” of God. “So where there is great triumphant praise, Satan is overcome, confused and banished.”

Tichenor instructs us that “to be most effective, praise must be great, continuous, a fixed habit, a lifetime occupation, a vocation, a total way of life.” This means that we must learn to praise God not only when we are filled with joy “but always,” even when “things are painful, humiliating and even disastrous.”

Father Tichenor tells the story of a woman who came to him whose daughter was “on drugs, alcohol and involved in prostitution.” Father Tichenor instructed the woman to “give your daughter to Jesus” in faith and to praise and thank God for her daughter in all circumstances, no matter how dire and difficult. So the mother one night got on her knees and entrusted her daughter to God.  As the mother’s attitude and behavior changed a healing occurred. Father Tichenor relates:

“This kept on for awhile and then there was a complete change in her daughter. The mother and daughter came to me about six months later, and the healing had been complete. I asked the daughter what had happened. She said the first night when her mother didn’t complain and wasn’t in tears startled her….And finally, since she was received at home with love, she wanted to know how her mother was able to do it. When she found out how, she wanted to have whatever her mother had. So they went to a prayer meeting. The daughter is now baptized in the Spirit and very active in the Renewal.”

To sum up, according to Father Tichenor the secret of great faith is praise continuous! “We must continue ceaselessly to live a life of praise to the Glory of God.” And as “one praises and worships, he is transformed step-by-step from glory-to-glory, into the image of the infinitely joyous God.”

Tom Mulcahy, M.A.

 

P.S.  In All for Jesus, Chapter 8, Father Faber relays a number of methods used by the saints to praise God. It is a chapter well worth reading. The book by Patricia Treece is The Mystical Body, p. 37.

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THE GREAT VALUE OF SHORT PRAYERS MADE FROM THE HEART

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“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” (1 Cor. 13:13)

The cultivation of these three virtues, infused into our souls at baptism, is crucial. These are the “God-centered” virtues of faith, hope and love. These are the virtues that direct our attention directly at God: we reach out to God in faith, we press closer to Him in hope, and by love we unite ourselves to God. Thus, the development and practice of the theological virtues (or God-centered virtues) is hugely important. We need to practice these virtues. We need to make acts of faith, hope and love to the “living” and infinitely good God (I am drawing from Father Tanquerey’s great book, The Spiritual Life).

One simple way to “exercise” the theological virtues of faith, hope and love is through ejaculatory prayer – that is, by very short prayers made from the heart. Of ejaculatory prayer (or short prayers of aspiration) Father Paul O’Sullivan says:

“The custom of making ejaculations is of such transcendent importance that all the Saints practiced it and raised themselves to an eminent height of sanctity by its means” (How to be Happy, How to be Holy, page 228).

He further says of these short, ejaculatory prayer: “Nothing is easier, nothing more useful or profitable to use than these little prayers, which we can say at every moment. Nothing will make us more happy” (p. 211). Now these short, affective prayers are very useful to busy men and women who may find prayer time hard to come by (although we must make prayer a priority). The same, short affective prayer of love can be lifted up to God throughout the day multiple times (even hundreds of time per day). We may simply say, “Jesus, I Trust n You,” or, “Sacred Heart of Jesus I have boundless confidence in Thee,” or, “My God, I love Thee,” or, “My God, grant that I may love Thee more and more,” or, “Come Holy Ghost, Creator Blest, and in my heart take up thy rest.” These are but a few examples of short, ejaculatory prayers that can be easily said all through the day; and the examples chosen correspond specifically to acts of faith, hope and love.

These short, ejaculatory prayers deepen our affection for God. It becomes habitual for us to let God know how much we love Him and how much we trust in Him. And since the theological virtues are not natural virtues, but rather supernatural virtues infused into our souls at baptism, the exercise of these virtues directs more efficaciously our union with God (relying again on Father Tanquerey). In short, ejaculatory prayer is a very practical and effective way to exercise the all-important theological virtues. 

EXAMPLE: A man goes on a hectic three day business trip. He decides that his “go-to” prayer of aspiration throughout the trip will be: “Oh Sacred Heart of Jesuswhom I adore, help me to love Thee more and more.” This prayer constitutes an exercise of the theological virtues. He also decides that in times of temptation he will say this aspiration: “By thy Immaculate Conception, O Virgin Mary, make my body pure and my soul holy” (Raccolta)! This short prayer not only venerates Mary but also is an exercise of the moral virtues. Importantly, as Father Tanquerey demonstrates, the theological virtues support the moral virtues and, conversely, the moral virtues support the theological virtues. Thus, Jesus says, “If you love me you will keep my commandments” (John 23: 23-45)

There is a famous book, The Way of the Pilgrim, wherein the author relates how simply repeating the Jesus prayer (“Lord Jesus Christ, Have Mercy on me”) hundreds and thousands of time per day transformed his life. Ejaculatory prayers, said with love, can be very powerful and very useful to growth in holiness.

Tom Mulcahy

SourcesThe Spiritual Life by Father Adolphe Tanquerey (TAN), see especially pages 458-459; and How to be Happy, How to be Holy by Father Paul O’Sullivan (TAN). Most of the short prayers I cited are taken from  Father O’Sullivan or from a pamphlet entitled, How to Converse Continually and Familiarly with God, by St. Alphonsus Liguori (TAN).

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